Sometimes when you are lucky enough to be alive and watch a world class player in action, you don’t appreciate their true greatness until they have retired.
With Kevin De Bruyne that isn’t true, and the Manchester City midfielder has just signed a two-year contract extension keeping him at the club until 2025.
He arrived at the Etihad Stadium from VFL Wolfsburg in 2015, following a previous il-fated spell in the Premier League with Chelsea. Nobody was sure what to expect, but he has since gone on to become one of the greatest ever and is appreciated by even City’s closest rivals.
His story in England brings two of the greatest managers together. He struggled for opportunities under José Mourinho but has excelled under Pep Guardiola, and it’s his key moments in the sky-blue shirt that has ensured City’s sustained success and his enormous legacy.
Firing City into the Champions League Semi-Finals
Given their quest to conquer Europe continues, it’s fitting to look back at the last and only time they have made it to a Champions League semi-final.
The Citizens came up against a strong Paris Saint- Germain side, and looked confident after a 2-2 draw in the first leg, but an early penalty miss from Sergio Aguero made everyone nervous.
Nevertheless a decisive strike from De Bruyne with 15 minutes to go sent them roaring into the semis for the first time and it made for an unforgettable night in Manchester.
Finally, a Manchester Derby goal
2016 was Pep’s first season and De Bruyne had settled in well, next on the list was a goal in the Manchester derby.
The two heavyweights collided with the added spectacle of old foes Mourinho and Guardiola facing each other once again. It took only 15 minutes for him to hit the back of the net.
Later in the game he registered an assist in the eventual 2-1 victory, getting revenge on his former boss.
That assist against Stoke
On their way to a record-breaking Premier League points tally, who could forget the amazing assist during his 100th game for the club in a 7-2 victory over Stoke City.
He sent the home supporters wild with a sensational pass across the width of the pitch allowing Leroy Sane to slot it home for six.
After the game, former City manager Mark Hughes told BBC Sport: “He is the best player in the Premier League by a country mile.”
The City Century
The two biggest goals in Manchester City’s history have come in added time.
The ‘Aguerooooo’ moment will live long in the memory of fans but so will Gabriel Jesus’ goal against Southampton.
With the 1-0 win on the final day at St Mary's, the Citizens broke an extraordinary record with the last kick of the season ensuring they became the only side to reach 100 Premier League points.
Of course, it was De Bruyne who provided the assist with a sublime pass from his own half which gave the Saints defenders no chance.
PFA Player of the Year
2019/20 saw Manchester City drop off, and subsequently fail to match their local rivals Manchester United by winning the Premier League three times in a row.
However, De Bruyne still produced world class performances. If there is one thing that separates the good players from the greats, it’s consistently performing at the highest level even when your team isn’t.
He racked up 13 goals and 20 assists, joining Thierry Henry as one of only two players to assist 20 goals in a single PL season in the process.
As a result, he was named PFA Player of the Year, the first Man City player to win the prize.
All the recent talk has revolved around City’s need for a central striker. The spotlight last night was on Erling Haaland who has been strongly linked to a transfer this summer by Sky Sports, along with Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku.
However, the news of De Bruyne’s extension is perhaps the biggest signing for City this summer, and on the blue side of Manchester they will be hoping he can lead them to European glory.